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One by one, they came to me and told me about their new dating lives. I became obsessed to the point of unhinged about their new dating lives, in which all sex is plentiful, on-demand, available, and when it comes to romance, all the rules are off and also all “The Rules” are off.
They told me how different and strange it was to be meeting someone on a phone. While I was doing research, I signed up for some dating apps. I’m 43 and I’ve been married for 13 years, so please pardon what will look like naïveté while I break the news, because there are some people who do not know this yet: These days, a man will send you a series of eggplant emojis and say something to you that is unprintable in this family newspaper.
She had been trying to pass on her philosophies about dating for years, and to sum up her rules, they were this: Don’t. Here it is, presented in full, as I’m not even sure I understand it completely and perhaps you can help: It’s a story from her own youth, living in Rockaway, Queens, after she emigrated with her family from Israel. But I know by now she will only repeat the story because the lessons of it are obvious to her. She’d seen me through a lifetime of social interactions. J., wanting to know if I would be a good second wife for them, if I was “serious” about settling down, if I had a family history of infertility.
Whatever she was trying to convey to me, she had to know that I couldn’t pull it off, this subterfuge; I wasn’t her. I couldn’t stare contemptuously at a man and make him want me more. It was nothing like what I heard from a critical mass of my friends who were getting divorced.
The ’90s woman, confused by how her ambition was supposed to be compatible with her want for a family, nodded her head emphatically, her Rachel shimmering around her face.
We couldn’t make eye contact with a man, and to prevent too much eye contact, we had to walk around the room. In the sleeping-with-a-man rules, we had to work to not appear sex-crazed. The next morning, we had to go about our day and pretend we didn’t want to have brunch or spend the day together, lest we scare the poor bastard off.There were so many mixed messages, and the women I knew were at war to maintain their independence but also still traditional enough to think about the families they’d been engineered to want.